Soaring Over Kaua’i

The last time we were in Kaua’i, we booked a small plane tour around the island.  It was fantastic.  Although we did a helicopter tour over Maui some years ago, the plane tour was different somehow, and I think I liked it better.  Still, if you’re able to afford both, I’d recommend trying each at least once.

There were 7 people total on the plane.  This includes the pilot and our 7-month-old son.  He’s a good flier, but he fell asleep halfway through the flight.  I guess he wasn’t that impressed.  There’s no grabbing for seats on this plane.  They weigh each passenger beforehand and then assign seating to balance the plane.  The seat they assigned me was the co-pilot’s seat, and it was as cool as that sounds.

We almost didn’t fly at all.  The flight was almost cancelled due to inclement weather.  We flew anyway, and I was worried not about having an unsafe flight, but about not getting good shots of the island.  The website for this tour described it as a photographer’s dream, and I wanted to live the dream.  I thought the views would be obscured by too many gray clouds, and that turned out to be partially correct.  There were no clear blue and sunny skies, and there were a few times when the rain completely blocked the landscape.

I still managed to get a few good shots though.  Since we’ve been around Kaua’i a few times before (on the ground), it was neat to see things from this different perspective.  The pilot was great about pointing out pretty much everything on the ground.  You’re familiar with Waimea Canyon?  It’s “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  I looks pretty cool from the air, even on a cloudy day.

Waipoo Falls is the big waterfall in the canyon, and it looks pretty darn cool from above.

Do you remember Hurricane Iniki back in 1992?  I wasn’t there for it, but they say it pretty much wiped out everything on Kaua’i.  This plane tour we’re talking about was in 2015, and you can still see huge swaths of land destroyed by that hurricane that haven’t fully recovered yet.

Then there’s something they don’t tell you on the website.  There was radio chatter – lots of it, from other tours.  Everyone in the plane had headsets on, and we could talk to each other and the pilot.  That’s how he would tell us about the spots down on the ground.  Apparently this is some kind of open channel, and everyone else in the area could hear us and our pilot.  And everyone else could chime in if they felt so inclined.  One person who felt very inclined to be part of our tour was our pilot’s buddy who was flying a helicopter nearby.  Most of his interjections were related to South Park.  Specifically, he had a penchant for talking like Towelie (the anthropomorphic towel character who was always stoned).  So, you’re going to have to imagine our pilot telling us in a professional-sounding pilot’s voice that we were about to fly over, for example, Mahaulepu Beach.  Then imagine some guy coming in over the headset, in Towelie’s high-pitched voice, saying, “If you’re gonna fly over Mahaulepu Beach, don’t forget to bring a towel.”

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